What Is a Passenger Vehicle and What Are the Types?

What is a passenger vehicle?’ is a common and confusing question among car owners, as there are many types of cars that you can drive. Although the passenger car is the most common type on the road, it’s usually confusing which vehicles qualify to meet the meaning.

Types of Passenger Vehicle ~ Ran When Parked

Passenger cars differ from cars and vans to trucks, but they won’t include off-road vehicles and motorcycles. In this article, we take a closer look at what passenger automobiles are and the pros and cons of driving these cars.

What Is a Passenger Vehicle?

A passenger vehicle is a car that carries passengers and their cargo on the road. Passenger cars include cars, vans, and trucks, and they can be owned by a company or a private individual. Examples include a Toyota Camry and a Ford Escape.

The motor vehicle is designed to carry multiple passengers on the streets and highways, including minivans, pickups, and compact cars. But cars that are above a specific weight limit are not included. Also, motorcycles and ambulances are not passenger cars. Passenger cars can usually carry up to eight people at a time.

In the United States, a passenger car must have four wheels with seats for up to eight passengers, including the driver. It is between 14 and 18 feet long, and the weight must be under 3,500kg. If the vehicle carries more than eight passengers, it is a commercial car. Also, if it exceeds the weight limit, it is a heavy truck.

What Are the Types of Passenger Vehicles?

The types of passenger vehicles are sedans, coupes, hatchbacks, SUVs and convertibles. These passenger cars usually fit eight to nine passengers and meet the weight limit. They also have space for the baggage of the passengers. These cars are mostly found on the road and highways.


A sedan, also called a saloon, is a passenger car with two or four doors that can comfortably fit three people in the back seat. It is covered with a hard roof and can be big or small. The car comes with a three-box configuration, with separate compartments for the engine, passengers and cargo.

Sedan Car on Road ~ Ran When Parked

Examples of sedans include the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. Keep in mind that while a sedan is a passenger car, it is often used for business purposes. Most ride-sharing services like Uber use sedans as commercial cars since they have a better fuel economy and have spacious back seats.


A coupe is a passenger car with two doors and a fixed roof. The cargo area is usually found behind the back seats. Coupes have a sloping or truncated rear roofline and are designed with a three-box body for the passenger and engine compartment.

Examples of coupes include BMW M-Series and Audi A-Series. Coupes have two seats in the front and two smaller seats at the back, so it’s not a top choice for those who need a commercial car.


A hatchback is a passenger car designed with a rear door that opens upwards to give access to the main interior of the car. The trunk is behind the back seats, but it is not separated from the car.

Some hatchback models come with second-row seating that can fold down, so there is either small cargo volume or small passenger space.

Some examples of hatchbacks include the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. A hatchback has four doors with a two-box body. It also features a tailgate that flips up.


SUV means sport utility vehicle, and these are cars that have features for driving on the road and off-road. SUVs come with increased ground clearance and four-wheel drive. There is no agreed-upon definition of an SUV, but they have a boxy appearance and can drive on the roughest road.

Sport Utility on SUV Vehicle ~ Ran When Parked

Some types of SUVs include Ford Explorer and Jeep Wrangler. Despite their larger sizes, SUVs are categorized as passenger automobiles because they can carry between seven and nine passengers. There might also be two additional seats in the trunk.


A convertible is a passenger car with a removable or folding roof. The trunk is found behind the back seats, and they are usually very expensive cars. It is also called a cabriolet and can be driven with or without a roof.

Types of convertibles include a Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, as they offer the convertible option in premium trims like SS and GT trims. Most people like convertibles because they offer an open-air driving experience and would also be covered with a roof when needed/

What Are the Pros of Passenger Automobiles?

The pros of passenger automobiles include the ability to transport yourself and your passengers, whether friends or family, without needing public transportation or taxis. These cars are usually more cost-effective and fuel-efficient than commercial cars, making them suitable for daily commuting.

Pros of Passenger Automobiles ~ Ran When Parked

Passenger cars are usually more affordable than luxury cars and commercial cars. This makes it accessible to all drivers. Also, these cars are mostly smaller, so you can easily maneuver and park them than bigger cars. Passenger cars also cause less damage to other property and cars during an accident.

If you’re driving a passenger car, you will see that it emits fewer greenhouse gases than larger cars. This makes them environmentally friendly.

What Are the Cons of Passenger Automobiles?

The cons of passenger automobiles include the lack of towing capacity, as they are not usually able to tow a trailer or caravan. Also, passenger cars are usually less comfortable than bigger cars because of the limited seating, except it’s an SUV.

Passenger cars are more likely to be stolen than bigger cars since they are small. They might not have as many safety features as bigger cars, like ABS brakes and airbags. It would also suffer more during an accident and might not be able to handle off-roading, except it’s an SUV.

What Is the Difference Between Passenger and Commercial Vehicle?

The difference between passenger and commercial vehicles is that the former can carry up to eight passengers while the latter carry more. Commercial cars include vans and trucks, but not passenger cars. Commercial cars are usually used by businesses.

Passenger and Commercial Vehicle ~ Ran When Parked

Also, commercial cars usually have a payload capacity of 1000 kg or one ton, but this is not the case with passenger cars. In fact, passenger automobiles don’t usually have any payload capacity to haul cargo. Passenger cars are limited to a length of 14 to 18 feet, but commercial cars can be as long as they want, including trucks and lorries.

Another difference is that the commercial car usually weighs over 3500 kg while passenger cars don’t. Most commercial cars like vans, buses, trucks and lorries can carry over 15 passengers, and they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. But there are different things to consider when choosing a commercial car.

For one, commercial cars are too big, with a lot of large blind spots and limited acceleration. Due to this, it might be hard to maneuver the commercial automobile when driving and parking. Commercial cars are usually used to carry loads, goods and objectives, so they usually have a large cargo area.

Is an RV a Passenger Vehicle?

An RV is not a passenger vehicle but is considered a commercial car in most states. The rule on whether an RV is a passenger or commercial cars differs from state to state. Some states allow you to register the RV as a passenger car, but you will pay extra.

Recreational vehicles can be driven and will also tow trailers. They don’t have an exact number of seats, and the weight and length also differ from basic passenger cars. That’s why they are seen as a commercial car.

A recreational vehicle is a housecar, truck camper, motorhome, travel trailer or camp trailer that is designed for human habitation and occupancy. Some states don’t qualify RVs as passenger or commercial automobiles but keep them in a category of their own, which is recreational vehicles.

The RV usually includes six wheels and a full cab at the front. This allows one or two passengers and a driver to sit down. Then, in the back is the complete interior of the recreational vehicle itself. Some RVs are not mobile and will be pulled by a pickup truck. You can check the DMV in your state to know what your RV falls under.

Is a Pickup Truck a Passenger Vehicle?

A pickup truck is a passenger vehicle as long as it meets the weight limits. There is a grey area when classifying a pickup truck as a commercial or passenger car. In some states, the pickup truck will be registered as a commercial car if it exceeds the weight.

Passenger on Pickup Truck ~ Ran When Parked

For instance, New York does not allow you to register your pickup as a passenger car if the automobile weighs over 6,000 pounds. Even if you will be using it for personal purposes, the weight makes it a commercial car. An example is the Ford F-150, which is a popular pickup truck with extensive power.

If you want to register a heavy pickup truck as a passenger vehicle, you need to modify it and meet certain conditions. It must only be used for personal purposes, cannot have a business signage or advertisement, and the truck bed must be fitted with camping gear or seats.

But if your pickup truck, like the Toyota Tacoma or Ford Ranger, weighs less than 6,000 pounds, you can register it as a passenger vehicle. You can check the unladen weight of your pickup truck on the metal plate located on the door. It’s not the same as the maximum gross weight.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Private Passenger Vehicle?

A private passenger vehicle is a car, SUV, light van or light truck that weighs one ton or less and is used to carry passengers. It is a land motor vehicle with four wheels or more, used for transporting people and not goods or property.

What Is the Difference Between a Passenger Car and SUV?

The difference between a passenger car and an SUV is the size of the car and ground clearance. SUVs have a higher ground clearance and four-wheel drive. But, SUVs are classified under passenger cars because they carry eight or fewer passengers.


Now that we’ve answered the question, ‘What is a passenger vehicle?’ you know what your car qualifies as for registration purposes. Here’s a rundown of our article:

  • A passenger vehicle is an automobile that carries passengers and their cargo on the road.
  • The types include sedan, convertible, hatchback, SUV, and coupe.
  • The pros of passenger autos are that they are affordable, easy to maneuver, and more cost-efficient with a higher fuel economy.
  • The cons of passenger cars are the lack of comfort as they are smaller, they have no towing capacity, and they are stolen easily.
  • An RV or pickup truck can be a passenger automobile, but it depends on the state you are in and the weight of the car.

With our complete guide, you now know what your car qualifies as. A passenger car is found everywhere and is a great choice for anyone who wants to commute.


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